Individual Services Committee Meeting Minutes
January 8, 2015

In attendance: Matthew Castleman, SMOC, Jonathan DeMars, Friends of the Homeless, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Nichole King, Friends of the Homeless, Charlie Knight, consumer, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Bill Miller, Friends of the Homeless, Dave Modzelewski, Network, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Jerry Ray, Mental Health Association, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Laura Saponare, Catholic Charities, Joe Schroeter, Eliot CHS- Homeless Services, Pamela Schwartz, Network

Point in Time Count/Youth Count – Jan. 28

Gerry provided hand-outs with clear guidance on conducting the PIT count (thanks to Andrea Miller for her support in producing these documents).  You can find them here and here.

For people interested in helping with the street count, please contact Jay Levy or Dave Havens who will offer specific trainings in relation to this aspect of the count. Jay Levy: [email protected]; Dave Havens: [email protected]..

Youth Count (from 1/28-2/3): will cover anyone 24 years of age or below (living on their own), broader survey, including youth living doubled up. The count is accompanied by a survey which will be administered in person and will also be available online (with gift cards offered in return for completion). Online address not available yet but Pamela will distribute broadly as soon as it’s ready. Packet with paper surveys.

For Hampden County Youth Count, contact Lizzy Ortiz at [email protected]

The “Registry List;” Zero 2016 Campaign:

Gerry reported on the push to get VI-SPDAT screening completed for as many as possible who will be counted for PIT count.   This will be the basis for a “registry” of all chronically homeless individuals and the capacity to prioritize their need for housing. This registry would be administered in the context of the REACH meetings, i.e., with real person input that could adjust the survey results as needed based on individual circumstances.

The VI-SPDAT is close to being incorporated in the ETO system, with data sharing challenges solved sufficiently to separate out confidential from non-confidential information. This will spare an individual from having to be screened multiple times and will allow for appropriate information sharing across agencies..

The Zero 2016 campaign is working on creating a tool that will link with HMIS so it can pull out the VI-SPDAT score and other related information and provide the prioritization necessary to ensure the hardest to serve individuals are being served.

Legislative Advocacy

Bill Miller shared illuminating materials from MHSA (go here) that demonstrate the disconnect in state funding between the need and funding levels. Western Massachusetts receives 7% of funding under the individual services line-item for emergency shelters while accounting for 13% of the 2013 PIT count (by way of comparison: Boston receives 65% of the resources with 38% of the PIT count).

This gap is in the context of Friends of the Homeless facing a significant budget cut at the end of this fiscal year without additional intervention (they received an earmark this fiscal year that brought them up to the state average bed rate of $32/night, which will end on 6/30/15). We agreed that this issue requires Network attention.

We discussed possible advocacy solutions:

  • Procurement of the shelter system or “mini-procurement” (via pilot projects on a regional basis)
  • Increase unit rate statewide (roughly $4 million to get to state average of $32/night)
  • Increase unit rate for Western region alone (a cheaper solution, less collaborative)
  • Reallocate statewide for more appropriate need/funding ratios (all agreed it would be very problematic and likely counter-productive to advocate for cuts in funding elsewhere)

We agreed that the first step is educating our legislative delegation about this situation (MHSA’s data presentation provides a powerful tool). But we also need to come prepared to our legislative meetings with a proposed solution. We agreed we need to put this conversation in the context of the ultimate solution of housing; that these FOH services at stake are precisely what connects people to housing.

Pamela will reach out to Senate President Rosenberg to invite him to a tour of FOH.

Network Opening Doors Plan

Pamela updated the group that the Network’s contract with DHCD has just been signed and work is about to get underway to create the Western Mass. Opening Doors Plan, a regional plan that will align with the federal plan to end homelessness. She will have additional updates and information by our next meeting date.

Next meeting: Thursday, 2/5, 10:30 am, Northampton Senior Center


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